Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Executive Who Would Be King

Glenn Greenwald examines the rule of law and why the radical right needs lots of exposure.

The Wall St. Journal online has today published a lengthy and truly astonishing article by Harvard Government Professor Harvey Mansfield, which expressly argues that the power of the President is greater than "the rule of law." .....That such an argument comes from Mansfield is unsurprising. He has long been a folk hero to the what used to be the most extremist right-wing fringe but is now the core of the Republican Party. ........But reading Mansfield has real value for understanding the dominant right-wing movement in this country. Because he is an academic, and a quite intelligent one, he makes intellectually honest arguments, by which I mean that he does not disguise what he thinks in politically palatable slogans, but instead really describes the actual premises on which political beliefs are based.

And that is Mansfield's value; he is a clear and honest embodiment of what the Bush movement is. In particular, he makes crystal clear that the so-called devotion to a "strong executive" by the Bush administration and the movement which supports it is nothing more than a belief that the Leader has the power to disregard, violate, and remain above the rule of law. And that is clear because Mansfied explicitly says that. And that is not just Mansfield's idiosyncratic belief. He is simply stating -- honestly and clearly -- the necessary premises of the model of the Omnipotent Presidency which has taken root under the Bush presidency. ......In the course of explaining how the rule of law applies only in "quiet times," Mansfield also argues that "civil liberties are subject to circumstances," not inalienable, and that "in time of war the greater dangers may be to the majority from a minority." Thus, he explains -- in what might be my favorite sentence -- "A free government should show its respect for freedom even when it has to take it away." ........And for those with any lingering doubts about how repugnant Mansfield's vision is to the defining American political principle, I would simply turn the floor over to the great American revolutionary Thomas Paine (.pdf), writing in Common Sense:
The point here is not to spend much time arguing that Mansfield's authoritarian cravings are repugnant to our political traditions. The real point is that Mansfield's mindset is the mindset of the Bush movement, of the right-wing extremists who have taken over the Republican Party and governed our country completely outside of the rule of law for the last six years. Mansfield makes these arguments more honestly and more explicitly, but there is nothing unusual or uncommon about him. He is simply expounding the belief in tyrannical lawlessness on which the Bush movement (soon to be led by someone else, but otherwise unchanged) is fundamentally based. ........All sorts of the most political influential people in our country -- from Dick Cheney to Richard Posner to John Yoo and The Weekly Standard -- believe and have argued for exactly this vision of government. They literally do not believe in our constitutional framework and our most defining political values. They have declared a literally endless War which, they claim, not only justifies but compels the vesting of unlimited power in the President -- "unlimited" by Congress, the courts, American public opinion and the rule of law. ......Much of the intense dissatisfaction I have with the American media arises out of the fact that these extraordinary developments -- the dominant political movement advocating lawlessness and tyranny out in the open in The Wall St. Journal and Weekly Standard -- receive almost no attention.
While the Bush administration expressly adopts these theories to detain American citizens without charges, engage in domestic surveillance on Americans in clear violation of the laws we enacted to limit that power, and asserts a general right to disregard laws which interfere with the President's will, our media still barely discusses those issues.
They write about John Edwards' haircut and John Kerry's windsurfing and which political consultant has whispered what gossip to them about some painfully petty matter, but the extraordinary fact that our nation's dominant political movement is openly advocating the most radical theories of tyranny -- that "liberties are dangerous and law does not apply" -- is barely noticed by our most prestigious and self-loving national journalists. Merely to take note of that failure is to demonstrate how profoundly dysfunctional our political press is.

Monday, April 30, 2007

How Moslems Think

Here is an interesting recent(The survey, was carried out between mid-December and mid-February, ...) poll of opinions of people in the moslem world. I'm not attempting to make any point here. Just to provide some background information. You decide what it means and tell me what you think.
An average of more than 75 percent of respondents across the four countries -- Egypt, Morocco and the world's two most populous Muslim nations, Indonesia and Pakistan -- said they believed that dividing and weakening the Islamic world and maintaining control over Middle East oil were key goals of U.S. foreign policy...

Sixty-four percent of respondents in Indonesia, Pakistan, and Morocco said another U.S. goal was to "spread Christianity in the region.".....

And an average of two out of three respondents named "expand(ing) the geographic borders of Israel" as a third major U.S. policy objective in the region.
By contrast, less than one in four agreed that Washington wanted to create "an independent and economically viable Palestinian state", despite Bush's explicit endorsement of that goal since before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. ....
"While U.S. leaders may frame the conflict as a war on terrorism, people in the Islamic world clearly perceive the U.S. as being at war with Islam,"...... "There's a feeling of being under siege.....
Nearly three out of four respondents said they agreed with al-Qaeda's objectives -- if not the means -- to force Washington to remove its bases and military forces from all Islamic countries and stop favoring Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians; "to stand up to America and affirm the dignity of the Islamic people;" and "to keep Western values out of Islamic countries."
Respondents showed somewhat less enthusiasm for al-Qaeda's more religiously oriented goals, such as enforcing strict Sharia law in Muslim countries or establishing a single state, or Caliphate, throughout the Islamic world, although they, too, commanded strong majority support, particularly in Morocco.
At the same time, however, majorities in each country, ranging from 56 percent in Pakistan to 82 percent in Egypt, said they thought global economic globalization and communications was positive for their country. Similar support was found for democratic forms of governance. .......
..poll found that Bush himself was by far the Arab world's most-disliked world leader, exceeding even Israeli leaders who had topped four consecutive annual surveys carried out by Zogby and Telhami since 2002.
Asked their opinions of the current U.S. government in the latest poll, a majority of respondents -- ranging from 59 percent in Pakistan to 93 percent in Egypt -- said their views were unfavorable. Substantially smaller majorities -- just over 50 percent -- expressed unfavorable views of "the American people" in Egypt, Pakistan, and Indonesia, while two out of three Moroccan respondents said their views of the people of the United States were favorable. ......

In addition to identifying what they thought were major U.S. objectives in the Middle East, respondents were asked to choose among three possible options for what was "the primary goal" of the U.S. war on terrorism.
Strong majorities in Pakistan (68 percent), Morocco (72 percent) and Egypt (86 percent) chose either "weakening and dividing the Islamic religion and its people" or "achieving political and military domination to control Middle East resources". An average of only 13 percent of respondents in the same three countries said the primary U.S. goal was to "protect itself from terrorist attacks."
The results in Indonesia were somewhat less negative. Fifty-three percent of respondents chose one of the first two options, while 23 percent selected the third......

As for attitudes about al-Qaeda itself, an average of 15 percent of respondents said they supported the group's attacks on U.S. targets; while 23 percent said they oppose such attacks but share the group's attitudes toward the United States. Another 26 percent said they oppose both its attacks and its attitudes towards the U.S., while 37 percent (including two-thirds of all Pakistanis) declined to answer. Support for attacks on U.S. targets was highest in the two Arab states, Egypt (25 percent) and Indonesia (15 percent).
But respondents made a clear distinction between what kinds of attacks they considered permissible. While an average of about half of all respondents (and much higher percentages in the two Arab states) said they either "strongly" or "somewhat" approved of attacks against U.S. soldiers in Iraq and elsewhere in the region, only a tiny fraction -- well under 10 percent -- said they approved of attacks against civilians, either in the region or in the United States.
At the same time, the survey found more ambiguous responses to questions about al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Small pluralities in Egypt (40 percent), and Pakistan and Morocco (27 percent) said they had generally "positive" impressions of him, as opposed to "mixed" or "negative" views. In Indonesia, views were more evenly split.
The apparent inconsistency between those findings and strong disapproval of attacks on civilians may be explained in part by uncertainty over al-Qaeda's role in the Sep. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and the Pentagon in Washington DC. Across the four countries, an average of 42 percent of respondents said they didn't know (63 percent in Pakistan) who was responsible for the attacks.
Only two percent of Pakistanis believed that al-Qaeda was responsible for the attacks, compared to 34 percent who said they believed the U.S. government or Israel was behind them.
Christine Fair, a South Asia specialist at the U.S. Institute of Peace, suggested that that result may reflect confusion about the group's leaders who "20 years ago were 'freedom fighters', and now they're 'terrorists'. Folks just don't believe al-Qaeda did this."
Opinions were more evenly divided in the other three countries: in Morocco, 35 percent named al-Qaeda, while 31 percent said either the U.S. or Israel; in Egypt, the breakdown was 28 percent and 38 percent, respectively. In Indonesia, 26 percent of respondents blamed al-Qaeda, while 20 percent said they believed the U.S. or Israel was responsible.

Here is another good background story on the moslem religion.

Again, just in case we decide we need to make a new plan, having the information on the people themselves may be a good idea. So where do we go from here?

Another good piece from someone who was in Iraq. Similar topic.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Is It Impeachment Yet?

Well, is it?